viernes, 31 de julio de 2015

Novedad: Crooked, de Austin Grossman

Ya está a la venta Crooked, de Austin Grossman, una novela que reseñé la semana pasada y que recomiendo muy especialmente.

Ésta es su sinopsis:
This is the story of the great con game that was the late twentieth century, of American history's worst presidency, of how I learned to lie. It is not history as you know it. There are at least three sides to this story, and I'm telling both of mine.

I promise you I will show the same contempt for the historical record that it has shown for me.

My name is Richard Milhous Nixon. I swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and I have seen the devil walk.

An alternate history, a horror novel, a political satire and a study of what people will sacrifice to succeed, CROOKED is the ultimate inside story of the strange, all-too-human monsters at the heart of American power.

jueves, 30 de julio de 2015

Interview with Christopher Kastensmidt

Today I team up again with Leticia Lara for a very special interview with Christopher Kastensmidt, author of the wonderful stories of The Elephant and Macaw Banner. You can read the translation into Spanish at Fantástica Ficción. Hope you enjoy the interview!

Leticia Lara & Odo: You currently live in Brazil and your Elephant and Macaw Banner stories are, in fact, set in that country. How has your living abroad influenced your writing? What can you tell us about Brazilian science fiction and fantasy?

Christopher Kastensmidt: Living abroad influences everything. It gives a person a different outlook on life, a way of looking at things from different angles. In the case of The Elephant and Macaw Banner, it also provided me with material I would probably never have seen while living in the U.S.

Brazilian science fiction and fantasy has been riding a ten-year boom. In the twentieth-century, very little speculative fiction was published, and next-to-nothing by national authors. All that changed with the turn of the century, when lower publishing costs allowed smaller publishers to emerge. The number of SF books published per year grew 500% from 2005 to 2010. Even with those numbers, there is still plenty of room for growth.

LL&O: Classic Sword and Sorcery is not one of the most popular genres these days (especially with all the grim/dark and gritty fantasy out there). Why did you decide to write his kind of story? What authors have influenced your writing?

CK: With writing, it’s pointless to run after market trends, because they change all the time.  I write S&S because I enjoy it personally, and from my experience, a lot of younger readers do as well. To them, it’s something new, for the exact reason that few people have been publishing it.

Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories were a direct influence on The Elephant and Macaw Banner, as were the adventure stories of Alexandre Dumas and the old Robin Hood tales.

LL&O: The Elephant and Macaw Banner universe has been expanded into comic books and board games, and soon, a pen-and-paper RPG. How was this experience for you? Is there some feedback between your writing and the process of creating the games and the graphic novels?

CK: I spent fifteen years in the video game industry, so I’m accustomed to working with different media. There is an enormous amount of feedback between the products. Since they all reside in the same world, I’m constantly pulling ideas from one to the other. I even make changes to stories that have already been published.

For example, the graphic novel adaptation of “The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost” has entire scenes which weren’t in the original publication (Realms of Fantasy Magazine, 2010), and some of those have fed back into the republication of that story I launched last month! The process is very organic. I’m not afraid of changing my own stories if I think I can improve them, and I most certainly change them to fit the medium.

LL&O: Grim Fandango is one of the best adventures I have played. Can you tell us about your involvement in the development of this game? Do you think that telling a story in a videogame is similar to writing narrative?

CK: Grim Fandango is one of the best I’ve played as well; I’m glad I had the chance to see that project in development.

At the time it was being developed, I was still working on the technical side of things. I was an Intel employee, visiting lots of video game companies to train them and provide programming support. I didn’t do as much in Grim Fandango as I did in other LucasArts projects (like Indiana Jones and the Internal Machine, which I worked on for months), but I did provide some technical training to the team and perform a bit of coding for them.

That being said, I have written for several video games, and I even teach a university course on scriptwriting for games. The short answer is that there are certain narrative elements that need to be taken into account across all media: character, setting, and conflict, for example. Video games, however, are unique because of their interactivity. The player must have some say in how the story plays out, and the author needs to take that into account.

LL&O: Why did you decide to set your stories in the sixteenth century? Were you exploring something unknown to you or is this a historical period that you really like? I’ve read that you research profusely for your writing. How do you know when to stop researching and begin writing?

CK: It’s a historical period that I really like. I started studying Brazilian history for my own amusement in the late 90s, at the same time I began to study Portuguese, so by the time I began writing The Elephant and Macaw Banner, I already knew quite a bit. The sixteenth-century is great because it really was a period of exploration and adventure, perfect for this kind of story. The true-life story of Hans Staden, a German mercenary who made two long trips to Brazil at the time, was also a great influence, perhaps even the inspiration for the stories.

I never stop researching! I pause the writing sometimes when I need to study an entirely new subject, but the real key is learning how to research and write at the same time.

LL&O: Your Elephant and Macaw Banner tales have an interesting publication story, some of them were first available only in Portuguese and only now have been published in English. What can you tell us about this process? Are new stories of Gerard van Oost and Oludara coming soon? Will they be published simultaneously in Portuguese and English?

CK: There is a reason behind that. The first story came out in 2010, and the magazine which published it went out of business, so I had to find a new publisher. Another magazine accepted the second story in the series, but kept it “in the drawer”, awaiting publication, for four years.

I had originally decided to wait for English publication before publishing other stories in other languages, but there were so many people wanting to read more stories, I went ahead and published two more stories in other languages. Those have been published in Brazil, The Czech Republic, Romania, and The Netherlands.

So, after four long years, I decided to pull the story from the magazine and publish the stories myself (I didn’t feel like submitting to magazines and possibly waiting another four years). For now, they’re exclusive to Kindle, but I hope to have them out in other formats by the end of the year.

My publication plans in Portuguese and English are divergent at this point. I’m going to publish a novel in Brazil, joining many of the tales, but in English, I’m publishing the stories as a series of novelettes, to see where that goes. It is highly likely that I’ll publish stories in one language that I won’t publish in the other. As I said, the process is organic.

LL&O: What can you tell us about the possibility of publishing your stories in Spanish? What do you think about reading translations? Do you think the translator needs to be guided/helped by the author?

CK: I would love to publish them in Spanish, but no one has come asking for those rights yet, so I may go ahead and launch those myself, as I did in English.

The translator needs to feel comfortable asking the author questions. I’ve read bad translations of my own work before, where the translator didn’t ask me a single question, and I thought, “Why didn’t he just ask me to explain this part?” Resolving any doubts up front will save both sides a lot of embarrassment.

LL&O: You have worked as a computer programmer. What is similar and what is different between writing code and writing fiction?

CK: I would say that they are almost opposites. Computer programming is about creating a series of logical steps that will always provide the same result. Fiction is about feeling, emotion. It will never provide the same result. An infinite number of readers will have an infinite number of reactions.

LL&O: Are social networks important for you relationships with other authors and with your readers?

They are fundamental. The greater part of my writing career has occurred online: writing forums, critique groups, fiction submissions. Face-to-face relationships are still important to me. I tend to go to a couple of events each year (and even organize one), but that is very little compared to the time spent interacting online.

LL&O: What are you working on right now? Could you give us a sneak peek on your future projects?

CK: I’ve been writing narratives for just about everything these days: comics, TV shows, movies, video games, children’s books. Most of those projects are still unannounced, so there’s not much to say. I can at least mention Starlit Adventures, by Rockhead Games. That will be coming out a few weeks from now. I wrote part of the story, but my participation there will go far beyond the game itself—we’ll have some exciting news to announce shortly after launch. I also have some great new news about The Elephant and Macaw Banner that I can’t share just yet, unfortunately.

LL&O: Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

CK: The best place to go is That’s the only place with my complete bibliography (including games), and has a lot of information about the series.

LL&O: Any other thing you’d like to add?

CK: Yes, thank you very much for the interview! It has been a pleasure.

LL&O: Thank you for your answers and your time!

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2015

Ebook en oferta: Promise of Blood, de Brian McClellan

En estos momentos se puede adquirir en varias tiendas online (Amazon ES, Kobo) el ebook Promise of Blood, de Brian McClellan, al precio promocional de 3,99€. 

Ésta es la sinopsis del libro:
Winner of the 2013 David Gemmell Morningstar Award, A Promise of Blood is the explosive first novel in the most action-packed and acclaimed new fantasy series in years.

It's a bloody business, overthrowing a king. Now, amid the chaos, a whispered rumour is spreading. A rumour about a broken promise, omens of death and the gods returning to walk the earth.

No one really believes these whispers.

Perhaps they should.

martes, 28 de julio de 2015

Ebook en oferta: Soft Apocalypse, de Will McIntosh

El ebook Soft Apocalypse, de Will McIntosh, se encuentra en estos momentos en oferta en varias tiendas online (Amazon ES, Kobo) al precio de 3,49€.

Ésta es la sinopsis de la novela:
We've always imagined the world coming to an end in spectacular, explosive fashion. But what if - instead - humanity is just destined to slowly crumble?

For Jasper and his nomadic tribe, their former life as middle-class Americans seems like a distant memory. Their world took a turn for the worse - and then never got better. Resources are running out, jobs keep getting scarcer, and the fabric of society is slowly disintegrating . . . .

But in the midst of this all, Jasper's just a guy trying to make ends meet, find a nice girl who won't screw him around, and keep his group safe on the violent streets.

Soft Apocalypse follows the tribe's struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in the dangerous new place their world has become.

Novedad: The Dinosaur Lords, de Víctor Millán

Hoy se pone a la venta The Dinosaur Lords, de Víctor Millán. Ésta es su sinopsis:
A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden-and of war. Colossal plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meat-eaters like Allosaurus, and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from bat-sized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons. 
Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán's splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics…except the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engage in battle. During the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac-and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.

lunes, 27 de julio de 2015

Antonio Díaz reseña Mother of Eden, de Chris Beckett

De nuevo tenemos el placer de contar con una reseña invitada de Antonio Díaz, que en esta ocasión nos habla de Mother of Eden, la secuela de Dark Eden de Chris Beckett. Yo no he leído la novela en esta edición, pero sí la versión que se publicó por entregas en la revista Aethernet (que no es exactamente igual) y mi opinión es muy similar a la de Antonio. Espero que disfrutéis con la reseña. 

Banda sonora de la reseña: Antonio sugiere leer esta reseña escuchando East of Eden, de Zella Day (Spotify, SoundCloud)

En su nueva novela, Chris Beckett continúa narrando el destino de los humanos que habitan el planeta oscuro de Eden. En un esfuerzo de tratar de contar incluso menos que la sinopsis oficial de la novela, puedo decir lo siguiente: el autor empieza con un salto temporal bastante generoso en el que la población se ha segregado en varios colectivos. Por motivos obvios, los protagonistas también son distintos y, aunque hay algo más de variedad que en el primero, hay un personaje que se antepone a todos los demás: Starlight Brooking. Esta es la auténtica protagonista de la novela, y son sus andanzas las que ocupan la mayoría de sus páginas directamente o a través del punto de vista de otros. Beckett sigue logrando dotar de una gran tridimensionalidad a todos los personajes y es un placer ver distintos acontecimientos ser valorados desde el punto de vista de personajes diferentes.

Este Mother of Eden comparte la mayoría de las características que hacen del primer libro una lectura imprescindible, como el fascinante worldbuilding descrito con cierta profundidad pero que Beckett es capaz de transmitir sin agobiar con eternos párrafos descriptivos. El lenguaje, una de las cosas que más poderosamente me atrajo en Dark Eden, también está aquí. En un mundo donde no hay un sol, el día no se divide naturalmente y sus habitantes no utilizan "day" o "night" sino "wakes" (para referirse al tiempo que pasan despiertos como una unidad de tiempo). Pero lo innovador de Mother of Eden frente al primer libro es la evolución del lenguaje. Han pasado generaciones, así que se han perdido palabras y se han ganado otras nuevas. Además, las diversas culturas de Eden utilizan diferentes palabras para referirse a lo mismo. Obviamente no estamos hablando de distintos lenguajes (puesto que todos hablan inglés), pero sí derivaciones y deformaciones del mismo hasta el punto de que se dan nuevos acentos y manerismos. En Dark Eden los personajes utilizaban "year", pero estaba siendo reemplazada por "wombtime" como manera de referirse a los años (aunque en realidad son 9 meses, ya que la palabra hace referencia al embarazo). En Mother of Eden "year" ha desaparecido totalmente, pero además del "wombtime" que utilizan en la tribu de Starlight, existe "hundredwakes", que son simplemente grupos de cien "días".

Y es que esta es la impresión que queda tras leer Mother of Eden: que estamos ante un estudio sociológico de la evolución de la humanidad desde un punto de partida distinto del nuestro. El lenguaje, la evolución de la tecnología, de la sociedad, del comercio y de otras facetas de la vida humana están presentes, como por ejemplo el entretenimiento (con la introducción del teatro de marionetas). Pero la intención de Beckett es centrar el libro en la religión y las consecuencias que tiene en la sociedad. El propio título, Mother of Eden, es una clara referencia a esto y Beckett muestra cómo diferentes creencias afectan o se manipulan para afectar a la sociedad y los resultados que de ello se obtienen. Es sin duda de las reflexiones más interesantes del libro, pero no es suficiente para sostener una novela de 468 páginas.

Mientras el lector asiste con la boca abierta ante los cambios producidos en Eden y sus habitantes, pasa volando la primera mitad del libro. Pero entonces, aunque la narración no se estanca sí lo hace el interés del lector, que asiste incrédulo a cómo se desperdician elementos de la novela que podrían haber dado lugar a fantásticas oportunidades en su desarrollo. Quizás ese énfasis que Beckett quería darle a la novela en el tema de las creencias y la religión juega finalmente en su contra.

En mi opinión, el principal problema de la novela es que no va a ninguna parte. El argumento no es más que un corte transversal en la evolución de la raza humana en Eden. Mientras que en el primer libro asistías a un auténtico punto de inflexión, equivalente a la invención de la rueda, en este no pasa nada. Es más una historia en Eden y un chequeo de cómo están las cosas que un acontecimiento histórico relevante.

No estoy diciendo que sea una novela aburrida. Todo lo contrario, Beckett tiene un estilo ágil y directo y el libro está enfocado en narrar la historia principal y no se va por las ramas (aunque presenta multitud de detalles y elementos de fondo interesantísimos). Pero como ya he dicho, me da la impresión de que desperdicia las oportunidades que se le presentan en la narración (que evitaré mencionar por obvios motivos) en pro de perseguir un enfoque más detallado en el tema central de la novela: la religión.

Aunque para aquel momento ya estaba demasiado centrado en buscar algo que no iba a encontrar, hay que admitir que la historia central tiene un par de giros falsamente predecibles. Y digo falsamente porque a continuación Beckett te da dos vueltas más y te descoloca en el buen sentido. Así consiguió que llegase hasta el final a pesar de todo.

Incluso con mis sentimientos encontrados, sin duda leeré, si Beckett finalmente la escribe, la continuación de Mother of Eden, porque tengo que saber cómo continuarán (o acabarán) las andanzas de la especie humana en este extraño mundo.

domingo, 26 de julio de 2015

Ebook gratuito: The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island, de Cameron Pierce

En estos momentos se puede descargar gratuitamente en Amazon España el ebook The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island, de Cameron Pierce. Ésta es su sinopsis:
A love story about a pickle and a pancake.

It is Gaston Glew's sixteenth Sad Day - the sixteenth anniversary of the saddest day of his life: his day of birth - and his parents have just committed suicide. Fed up with the sadness of Pickled Planet, Gaston Glew builds a rocket ship and blasts off into outer space, hoping to escape his briny fate.

Meanwhile, on Pancake Island, Fanny Fod, the most beautiful pancake girl in the world, nurses a secret sadness as she guards the origin of all happiness: the mysterious Cuddlywumpus. When Gaston's rocket ship crash-lands in the sea of maple syrup that surrounds Pancake Island, nothing will ever be the same for him, or for Fanny Fod.

Captain Pickle says: "Unchain yourself from this briny fate, oh pickled prisoner, and read Cameron Pierce's The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island: A Tragedy for People Who Eat Food!"

Ebook en oferta: On Stranger Tides, de Tim Powers

En estos momentos se puede adquirir en Amazon España el ebook On Stranger Tides, de Tim Powers, al precio promocional de 0,99€. Ésta es su sinopsis:

1718: Puppeteer John Chandagnac has set sail for Jamaica to recover his stolen inheritance, when his ship is seized by pirates. Offered the choice to join the crew, or be killed where he stands, he decides that a pirate's life is better than none at all.

Now known as Jack Shandy, this apprentice buccaneer soon learns to handle a mainsail and wield a cutlass - only to discover he is now a subject of a Caribbean pirate empire ruled by one Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard.

A practitioner of voodoo, Blackbeard is building an army of the living and the dead, to voyage together to search for the ultimate prize: the legendary Fountain of Youth.

sábado, 25 de julio de 2015

Ebook en oferta: Station Eleven, de Emily St. John Mandel

En estos momentos se puede adquirir en Amazon España el ebook Station Eleven, de Emily St. John Mandel, al precio promocional de 2,79€ (ojo, porque hay varias ediciones y sólo una está rebajada). Esta novela ha sido la ganadora del Premio Arthur C. Clarke de este año. Podéis leer las opiniones de Miquel Codony, Cristina Jurado y Josep María Oriol

Ésta es la sinopsis del libro:
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America.

The world will never be the same again.

Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse.

But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?

viernes, 24 de julio de 2015

Ebook gratuito: The Fortuitous Meeting, de Christopher Kastensmidt

En estos momentos se puede descargar gratuitamente en Amazon España el ebook the Fortuitous Meeting, de Christopher Kastensmidt, primer relato de la serie The Elephant and Macaw Banner, que reseñé hace poco y que recomiendo especialmente.

Ésta es su sinopsis:
This work was a finalist for the Nebula Award in 2011. 
Welcome to a world of muskets and magic. 
In The Elephant and Macaw Banner series, two brave adventurers--the Dutch explorer Gerard van Oost and Yoruban warrior Oludara--travel the unexplored wilderness of sixteenth-century Brazil. Along the way, they encounter a host of creatures inspired by Brazilian folklore: from the brain-sucking Kalobo to the one-legged prankster Sacy-Perey. 
This first story, The Fortuitous Meeting, shows how the two protagonists first meet in sixteenth-century Brazil. Each of them, in turn, must find a way to outwit a legendary foe. 
The Elephant and Macaw Banner is an award-winning series of novelettes published in magazines and podcasts around the world. For the first time, this edition unites these stories for English readers.

jueves, 23 de julio de 2015

Dos ebooks gratuitos de Vlad Hernández

Además de Interface Dreams (en inglés), en estos momentos se pueden descargar gratuitamente de Amazon España otros dos ebooks (en español) de Vlad Hernández. Son los siguientes:

Alech era un colono del Anillo Espartano cuando comprendió que la industria nanotech cambiaría todos los paradigmas de la civilización humana. Acompáñalo en CRÓNICAS NANOTECH por un viaje relámpago a través de su vida y descubre un futuro de transformaciones. 
En el siglo XXI, la empresa Timeless ha comercializado el viaje a universos paralelos en épocas remotas. La prestigiosa cadena global NetPalace organiza un reality-show con superestrellas del hip-hop que van de safari al período Cretácico. En KRETACIC RAP, caza mayor, aventura y polémica están servidas en bandeja mediática. 
¿Hasta qué extremos puede llegar la venganza de una persona con el corazón roto? En un mundo de tecnologías peligrosas, la NÉMESIS podría estar a punto de desencadenarse. 
En FRAGMENTOS DE UNA FÁBULA un viajero del Sistema Solar tiene un accidente en el espacio. Al despertar del estasis descubre que han pasado cuatro millones años y se ha convertido en el último hombre vivo en el universo; o peor. 
A veces la probable Ventana de Contacto entre civilizaciones se cierra. A veces, como en NIVELES DE CONCIENCIA, existe un abismo de incomprensión entre las especies.
2029. Ángela Butler era una chica con futuro en el campo de la informática QUAI, una brillante programadora que trabajaba en la sinergia entre ordenadores cuánticos y redes inteligentes; pero entonces comenzó a sufrir episodios mentales que afectaron su rendimiento y sus nervios, y su trabajo se fue al traste. 
Ahora Ángela es una buscavidas de los márgenes, una desarraigada que se ha alejado de su familia como forma de refugiarse del pasado. Lo que menos desea en el mundo es verse implicada otra vez en eventos de generación QUAI, y sobrevive haciendo chapuzas de decodificación ilegal para un pequeño equipo de tecno anarquistas que se autodenomina "El Club de los Poetas Muertos". 
Pero el paradigma de la computación cuántica proyecta una sombra muy larga que consigue atraparla, de modo que Ángela, a su pesar, se ve obligada a colaborar con el Proyecto Antrópico, acción liderada por un grupo de científicos europeos con una curiosa interpretación del Principio de Fermi. La misión es ambiciosa; implica manipular la trama cuántica del universo, abrir una puerta en el cielo, sin sospechar qué habita más allá del umbral.

Free Ebook: Interface Dreams, by Vlad Hernández

As of now, Interface Dreams, by Vlad Hernández is free to download from Amazon (ES, USA). This is the synopsis of the book:

A novel of bravery, redemption and love in a future of fear and trans-humanism. 
In the second half of the twenty-first century Havana has become a mega-city. After a bloody civil world, the old capital has emerged as Conglomerate Havana, an opulent super metropolis, the Key to the Gulf and both Americas, the new hub-for-all-cultures in the middle of the Caribbean. High towers of emergent corporations and post-national enclaves populate the skyline of the city; there, the weirdest technologies and concepts are developed and put to test, and some of them are totally illegal.

Roy Cruz is a reluctant hero, only he doesn’t know it yet. He used to be a tech soldier, a former interface pilot in the war between the Western block and his economic enemies. But he is retired now, victim of obsolescence and the high speed race of optimized technologies. Since then Roy has been living a confusing life, the eagerness of his pilot interface for being connected again makes him suffer from abstinence syndrome, a sort of emptiness that makes harder for him to connect with other people. 
During his stay in Conglomerate Havana, Roy and his companion, a German woman called Anna, meet by chance two girls on the run, two biotech artifacts: Two quartz novas --cutting edge tech out of control, escaping from the powerful True Confessions Corp. Inside the head of one of them there is a state-of-the-art neuro-implant, a revolutionary prototype destined to become the next new thing of the century. That means that hunters will come following the escapees, and Roy will have to face his broken humanity and take the toughest decision of his life.
Note: If you read in Spanish, you may also be interested in two these other two free ebooks by Vlad Hernández.  

Ebook en oferta: El aliento de los dioses, de Brandon Sanderson

Uno de los Kindle Flash del día de hoy en Amazon España es El aliento de los dioses, de Brandon Sanderson, que se puede adquirir en formato digital por 1,51€ (podéis leer aquí mi reseña de la novela). 

Ésta es la sinopsis del libro:
Hace años, el monarca de Idris firmó un tratado con el reino de Hallandren según el cual el rey Dedelin enviaría a su hija mayor, Vivenna, para casarse con Susebron, el rey-dios de Hallandren. Vivenna ha sido adiestrada durante toda su vida para ser una novia adecuada para Susebron y así cumplir con su deber y ayudar a forjar una paz estable entre los dos reinos. Ése era el plan hasta que el monarca de Idris envía a su hija Siri, desobediente e independiente, en lugar de Vivenna.Mientras intenta encontrar su lugar en la corte de Susebron, Siri descubre la verdad oculta sobre el rey-dios. En Idris, su hermana Vivenna se siente preocupada y teme que Siri no esté preparada para esa nueva vida, por lo que decide viajar a Hallandren. Allí se reúne con la gente de Idris que trabaja en la capital, T'Telir, y comienza una nueva vida de espionaje y sabotaje. El plan de Vivenna es rescatar a Siri, aunque tal vez ni necesite ni desee ser salvada.

The Fold, by Peter Clines

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to The Fold, by Wickerbird (Spotify, YouTube). 

It's been some time since I last quit reading a book before finishing it, but with The Fold, by Peter Clines, I was tempted to do so almost since the very beginning. In fact, although I technically read it until the last page, I only skimmed the last third of the novel. I've read some very positive reviews (that's what made me give it a try) and your mileage may vary, but I found this novel to be very weak in almost every regard.

The Fold is, for its better part, a SF mystery (later, it turns into something else, but it'd be kind of spoilerish to tell into what), a subgenre that I'm not very fond of but that I can enjoy now and then (for instance, I did like Superposition quite a lot earlier this year). In fact, the plot of the novel, although very conventional, is not especially bad. The mystery is (sometimes) intriguing and the twist is at least coherent with some of the earlier revelations. 

The main problem with The Fold, then, is not its plot, but its writing. The dialog is supposed to be smart and witty, but falls short all the time. The jokes are lame (if you are not rolling your eyes the first time someone replies "Not now" to "Fuck me" I think by the tenth you will be) as in, for instance, something like:
Bob smiled. 
"What else do you name a chimpanzee that changes the world?"
The characterization is not much better. The main protagonist is completely unbelievable, with his photographic memory and his out-of-the-chart intelligence. He is supposed to be kind of a modern Sherlock Holmes (although he works as an English High School teacher), but with the exception of a couple of tricks that the author adds just to make his case, his deductive powers do not seem to accomplish much. The secondary characters, in turn, are clichéd and one-dimensional (which is kind of ironic in a novel about interdimensional doors), including the obsessed scientist and the girl that falls for the protagonist just because. 

The novel is also full of small inconsistencies, little details that are mostly not that important to the plot, but that constantly annoyed me. What is more, the depiction of the work of the scientists is so inaccurate (especially in the case of the computer programmer) that it would be funny if it were not an important part of the plot. 

All in all, I can only recommend skipping The Fold. The writing is poor, the plot is unoriginal and implausible and the characters lack any depth. I was tempted to suggest that it might be passable as a beach read, but I did actually try reading part of the book at the beach and it didn't get any better. If you feel like reading a good SF mystery, I'll give Superposition, by David Walton, a try instead.       

The Fold, de Peter Clines

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando The Fold, de Wickerbird (Spotify, YouTube). 

Hace algún tiempo que no abandono la lectura de un libro antes de terminarlo, pero con The Fold, de Peter Clines, he estado tentado de hacerlo casi desde el comienzo. De hecho, aunque técnicamente he leído hasta la última página, en el último tercio me salté bastantes trozos. He leído varias reseñas muy positivas de la novela (que fue lo que me hizo darle una oportunidad) así que vuestra experiencia puede ser muy distinta de la mía, pero yo he encontrado el libro muy flojo en prácticamente todos sus aspectos.

The Fold es, en su mayor parte, un misterio con elementos de ciencia ficción (más adelante se transforma en otra cosa, pero rozaría el spoiler decir en qué), un subgénero que no me atrae especialmente, pero del que soy capaz de disfrutar de vez en cuando (por ejemplo, este año me ha gustado bastante Superposition). En realidad, la trama de la novela, aunque bastante convencional, no es especialmente mala. El misterio es intrigante (en algunos momentos) y el giro es al menos coherente con algunas de las revelaciones anteriores.

El mayor problema de The Fold es, por tanto, no su trama sino cómo está escrito. Los diálogos intentan ser inteligentes y ocurrentes, pero se quedan cortos casi todo el rato. Los chistes son terribles (si no ponéis los ojos en blanco la primera vez que alguien responde "Not now" a un "Fuck me" os aseguro que a la décima sí que lo haréis) como, por ejemplo, en cosas como de este estilo:
Bob smiled. 
"What else do you name a chimpanzee that changes the world?"
La caracterización de los personajes no es mucho mejor. El protagonista principal es completamente inverosímil, con su memoria fotográfica y su inteligencia que se sale de los gráficos. Se entiende que es un Sherlock Holmes moderno (aunque trabaje como profesor de literatura en un instituto) pero aparte de un par de trucos que el autor añade aquí y allá para intentar convencernos, sus dotes de deducción no es que consigan grandes cosas. Los personajes secundarios, a su vez, son completamente planos (lo que no deja de ser irónico en una novela sobre puertas interdimensionales), incluyendo al científico obsesionado y la chica que se enamora del protagonista porque sí.

La novela, además, esta plagada de inconsistencias, de diminutos detalles que no son demasiado importantes para la trama pero que a mí me incordiaron continuamente. Aún peor, la descripción del trabajo científico es tan ridícula (especialmente en el caso de la programadora de ordenadores) que resultaría gracioso si no fuera parte fundamental de la trama.

En resumen, sólo puedo recomendar evitar completamente The Fold. La prosa es muy pobre, la trama es inverosímil y poco original y los personajes carecen de cualquier profundidad. He estado tentado de afirmar que igual sería pasable como lectura de playa, pero la realidad es que intenté leer parte en la playa y con ello el libro no mejoró ni un ápice. Si os apetece leer una buena novela que mezcle misterio y ciencia ficción, es mejor que lo intentéis con Superposition, de David Walton.

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2015

Ebook en oferta: Joyland, de Stephen King

Hasta final de mes se puede adquirir en Amazon España el ebook Joyland, de Stephen King, al precio promocional de 0,99€. Ésta es la sinopsis de la novela:
Life is Not Always a Butcher’s Game. Sometimes the Prizes Are Real. Sometimes They’re Precious. 
All-time best-selling author STEPHEN KING returns with a novel of carny life-and death… College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life-and what comes after-that would change his world forever. 
A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old-and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time-JOYLAND is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. 
With all the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, JOYLAND is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.

martes, 21 de julio de 2015

Contenidos de The Apex Book of World SF 4

Apex ha anunciado los contenidos de su antología The Apex Book of World SF, editada por Mahvesh Murad, y que en esta ocasión incluye el relato de una autora española: Rocío Rincón. ¡Enhorabuena!

Estos son los relatos que contiene el libro, que pronto saldrá a la venta:
Vajra Chandrasekera (Sri Lanka) — "Pockets Full of Stones"
Yukimi Ogawa (Japan) — "In Her Head, In Her Eyes"
Zen Cho (Malaysia) — "The Four Generations of Chang E"
Shimon Adaf (Israel) — "Like A Coin Entrusted in Faith" (Traducido por el autor)
Celeste Rita Baker (Virgin Islands) — "Single Entry"
Nene Ormes (Sweden) — "The Good Matter" (Traducido por Lisa J Isaksson y Nene Ormes)
JY Yang (Singapore) — "Tiger Baby"
Isabel Yap (Philippines) — "A Cup of Salt Tears"
Usman T Malik (Pakistan) — "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family"
Kuzhali Manickavel (India) — "Six Things We Found During The Autopsy"
Elana Gomel (Israel) — "The Farm"
Haralambi Markov (Bulgaria) — "The Language of Knives"
Sabrina Huang — "Setting Up Home" (Traducido por Jeremy Tiang)
Sathya Stone (Sri Lanka)
Johann Thorsson (Iceland) — "First, Bite a Finger"
Dilman Dila (Uganda) — "How My Father Became a God"
Swabir Silayi (Kenya) — "Colour Me Grey"
Deepak Unnikrishnan (The Emirates) — "Sarama"
Chinelo Onwualu (Nigeria) — "The Gift of Touch"
Saad Z. Hossain (Bangaldesh) — "Djinns Live by the Sea"
Bernardo Fernández (Mexico) — "The Last Hours of The Final Days" (Traducido por el autor)
Natalia Theodoridou (Greece) — "The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul"
Samuel Marolla (Italy) — "Black Tea" (Traducido por by Andrew Tanzi)
Julie Novakova (Czech Republic) — "The Symphony of Ice and Dust"
Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Netherlands) — "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow" (Traducido por Laura Vroomen)
Sese Yane (Kenya) — "The Corpse"
Tang Fei — "Pepe" (Traducido por John Chu)
Rocío Rincón Fernández (Spain) — "The Lady of the Soler Colony" (Traducido por James y Marian Womack)

lunes, 20 de julio de 2015

Crooked, de Austin Grossman

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando The Love of Richard Nixon, de Manic Street Preachers (Spotify, YouTube). 

Crooked, la nueva novela de Austin Grossman, se puede leer de muchas formas diferentes, algo que queda bien claro desde el principio:
This is the story of the great con game that was the late twentieth century, of American's history worst presidency, of how I learned to lie. It is not history as you know it. Suffice it to say that there are at least three sides to this story, and I'm telling both of mine. I promise you I will show the same contempt for the historical record that it has shown for me.  
Por supuesto, el libro se puede leer simplemente como ficción. Una asombrosa mezcla de historia secreta, pastiche lovecraftiano, thriller de espías y autobiografía política. Normalmente, ninguno de esos géneros me interesaría demasiado, pero Grossman hace funcionen al unísono como por encanto (perdón por el mal chiste). Aunque son libros muy diferentes, Crooked me recordó en cierta manera a La conjura contra América, de Philip Roth, y a El sindicato de policía yiddish, de Michael Chabon, por su mezcla de intrigas políticas con una pizca de especulación.

La novela también puede ser leída, sin embargo, como una alegoría, como una metáfora e, incluso, como una sátira. Se ha hablado mucho sobre Richard Nixon como figura histórica, y la mayoría de lo que se ha dicho no es demasiado bueno. Teniendo eso en cuenta, los sucesos sobrenaturales de la novela, que de alguna forma conducen a Nixon por determinada senda, pueden ser interpretados como una forma de más de burla, como otra oscura y macabra broma a costa de la caricatura en la que se ha convertido el protagonista, como él mismo nos recuerda constantemente:
In 1962, I was already a joke, the man who didn't know when to leave the party. Nothing like what came later, obviously. But a joke.
La obsesión de Nixon con el poder político también se refleja en la novela en sus esfuerzos para tener éxito en diferentes e inesperados terrenos. Sus cómicos intentos de convertirse en espía, por ejemplo. Y, sobre todo, su desesperada carrera por dominar los poderes arcanos de Eisenhower, Taft, Washington. Una carrera que prácticamente se convierte en motivo de vergüenza para él y para los que le conocen:
I repeated the oath of office and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Magic wasn't about dignity, I decided. I sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." I sang "God Bless America" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee,", which has eight verses and is not an enchanting melody, but a small drink between verses improves it. The sun was low in the sky. "Yankee Doodle" has fifteen whole verses and it didn't do a damned thing.
"Dick?" It was Pat, standing in the doorway from the residence. How long had she been there? 
"Hello, Pat." 
"What are you doing?" 
"I wasn't doing anything." 
"You were singing." 
"I was providing leadership to the free world, which is the thing I do in here every day. Which is why you should knock before coming in." 
"I did knock. Someone - apparently not you- was singing 'Yankee Doodle' too loudly to hear me. Have you been drinking? I'm also wondering why you're wearing that flag as a cape." That I had put on around the tenth verse, a matter of thoroughness. 
"Everything about this situation is classified." 
Finalmente, Crooked se puede leer también como un autoengaño paranoico, una excusa barrocamente elaborada o un perfecto ejemplo de una narración no confiable. No debemos olvidar que la novela es, de hecho, la autobiografía ficticia de Nixon y que en ella explica los "verdaderos" sucesos que le llevaron a comportarse como lo hizo, y que lo retrata no como un fracasado sino, por el contrario, como un héroe, un salvador, un mártir. Pero, ¿por qué deberíamos creer en sus palabras cuando él mismo reconoce que es un mentiroso?
I sweated and sometimes all I could hear was my own inner voice saying, Liar, liar, liar, as I wondered if the next thing to come out of my mouth would sound crazy or not.
En cualquier caso, sea cual sea el modo en que decidáis leer Crooked, es innegable que se trata de una novela excelente en prácticamente todos los aspectos. La trama es intrigante desde la primera página y la tensión sólo crece con cada nuevo acontecimiento. Me encanta la forma en que los sucesos se unen sin fisuras con los elementos fantásticos y he quedado francamente impresionado con el manejo que Grossman hace de la elipsis: muchas veces, lo que queda sin decir, es tan importante como lo que realmente se cuenta. Los personajes son simplemente fascinantes; están estupendamente desarrollados y son totalmente tridimensionales. La voz de Nixon es perfecta, pero los personajes secundarios son igualmente memorables: Eisenhower, Kissinger, Pat Nixon... y, especialmente, los espías rusos: Gregor, Arkady y Tatiana. Y, por si eso fuera poco, la novela rebosa además un maravilloso sentido del humor:
This is a tale of espionage and betrayal and the dark secrets of a decades-long cold war. It is a story of otherworldly horror, of strange nameless forces that lie beneath the reality we know. In other words, it is the story of a marriage.   
He disfrutado cada página de Crooked y le doy mi recomendación total. Me ha hecho pensar, me ha hecho reír, me ha hecho abrir los ojos como platos y la boca como un buzón con ciertas sorpresas. Crooked es uno de los libros del año. No os lo perdáis.

Crooked, by Austin Grossman

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to The Love of Richard Nixon, by Manic Street Preachers (Spotify, YouTube). 

Crooked, Austin Grossman's new novel, can be read in several different ways, something that it is clear from the very beginning:
This is the story of the great con game that was the late twentieth century, of American's history worst presidency, of how I learned to lie. It is not history as you know it. Suffice it to say that there are at least three sides to this story, and I'm telling both of mine. I promise you I will show the same contempt for the historical record that it has shown for me.  
Of course, the book can be read just as fiction. An amazing blend of secret history, Lovecraftian pastiche, spy thriller and political autobiography. Usually, none of those genres would appeal to me, but Grossman makes them work in unison like a charm (no pun intended). Although they are all very different books, Crooked somehow reminded me of The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon, because of their mix of political intrigue with just a touch of the speculative. 

The novel can also be read, however, as an allegory, a metaphor, even as a satire. Much has been said about Richard Nixon as a historical figure, most of it not very good. Taking that into account, the supernatural events of the novel, that somehow force Nixon into a certain path, may be interpreted as just another way of mocking him, another dark and macabre joke on the caricature that the protagonist has become, as he constantly reminds us: 
In 1962, I was already a joke, the man who didn't know when to leave the party. Nothing like what came later, obviously. But a joke.
Nixon's obsession with political power is also reflected in the novel in his struggles to succeed in other, unexpected fields. His comical attempts at becoming a spy, for example. And, above all, his desperate pursuit to get a hold of the arcane powers of Eisenhower, Taft, Washington. A pursuit that is just shy of embarrassing for him and those who know him:
I repeated the oath of office and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Magic wasn't about dignity, I decided. I sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." I sang "God Bless America" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee,", which has eight verses and is not an enchanting melody, but a small drink between verses improves it. The sun was low in the sky. "Yankee Doodle" has fifteen whole verses and it didn't do a damned thing.
"Dick?" It was Pat, standing in the doorway from the residence. How long had she been there? 
"Hello, Pat." 
"What are you doing?" 
"I wasn't doing anything." 
"You were singing." 
"I was providing leadership to the free world, which is the thing I do in here every day. Which is why you should knock before coming in." 
"I did knock. Someone - apparently not you- was singing 'Yankee Doodle' too loudly to hear me. Have you been drinking? I'm also wondering why you're wearing that flag as a cape." That I had put on around the tenth verse, a matter of thoroughness. 
"Everything about this situation is classified." 
Finally, Crooked can also be read as a paranoid delusion, a bizarrely elaborate excuse or a perfect example of an unreliable narration. We should not forget that the novel is, in fact, Nixon's fictional autobiography in which he explains the "true" events that made him behave like he did, and that it depicts him not as a failure, but quite to the contrary, as a hero, a savior, a martyr. But, why should we believe him when even he recognizes he is a liar?
I sweated and sometimes all I could hear was my own inner voice saying, Liar, liar, liar, as I wondered if the next thing to come out of my mouth would sound crazy or not.
In any case, in whichever way you want to read Crooked, what is undeniably true is that it is an excellent novel in almost every respect. The plot is intriguing from the very first page and the tension only builds up with each new development. I just love the way the real historical events blend seamlessly with the fantasy elements and I was really impressed with how Grossman uses the ellipsis: many times, what is left unsaid is as important as what is actually told. The characters are just amazing, completely fully fleshed and three-dimensional. The voice of Nixon is just perfect, but the secondary characters are equally memorable: Eisenhower, Kissinger, Pat Nixon... and, especially, the Russian spies: Gregor, Arkady and Tatiana. And, to top it all, the novel is full of a wonderful sense of humor:
This is a tale of espionage and betrayal and the dark secrets of a decades-long cold war. It is a story of otherworldly horror, of strange nameless forces that lie beneath the reality we know. In other words, it is the story of a marriage.   
I've enjoyed every bit of Crooked and I can't recommend it highly enough. It made me think, it made me laugh, it made my eyes go wide and my jaw fall with surprise. This is one of the books of the year. Do not miss it.

domingo, 19 de julio de 2015

Novedad: Dark Orbit, de Carolyn Ives Gilman

Ya está a la venta Dark Orbit, la nueva novela de Carolyn Ives Gilman. Ésta es su sinopsis:
From Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder. 
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she's been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest. 
Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions. 
Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

sábado, 18 de julio de 2015

Novedad: Half a War, de Joe Abercrombie

Esta semana se ha puesto a la venta Half a War, de Joe Abercrombie, tercera parte de la serie con iniciada Half a King. Ésta es su sinopsis:
Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright. 
The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships only Death. 
Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness . . .